Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald held his weekly news conference in Evanston Monday. Among a preview of the Minnesota game Saturday and an analysis of the Wildcats' win over Central Michigan, Fitzgerald offered up these nuggets of info:
* NU honors as bestowed by coaches: Jacob Schmidt, his first time honored as offensive player of the week for his two rushing touchdowns against Central Michigan. Jeremy Ebert, is the big playmaker of the week, his third time honored.
Defensive players of the week: Corbin Bryant; big playmaker of the week: Jack DiNardo and Niko Mafuli, who were instrumental on the two blocked kicks. Because the Wildcats won by only five, those blocks were key to the Wildcats' 30-25 win over Central Michigan.
* Safety Jared Carpenter isn't on the depth chart for this week. Carpenter was a late scratch before the Rice game on Sept. 18 because of a back injury. In his place is Hunter Bates, who had a career-high 11 tackles (10 solo) against Central Michigan. But this may not be a Wally Pipp-Lou Gehrig situation between Bates and Carpenter. Pat Fitzgerald said no one will lose their job because of an injury. "Every rep matters. Every play counts in practice and in games. Our guys understand that. They just have to get healthy." Fitzgerald is not sure of the severity of Carpenter's back injury or when he will return.
* Speaking of injuries, Mafuli has made tremendous progress after injuring his right knee during the season opener at Vanderbilt. He missed two games but returned against Central Michigan (see note above for Mafuli's accomplishments against the Chippewas). Fitzgerald said Mafuli came back so quick because school wasn't in session when he got hurt and Mafuli was able to rehab his knee 24/7.
* NU coach Pat Fitzgerald and Minnesota coach Tim Brewster often vacation in Naples, Fla. with their familes. But last year's 35-24 Minnesota win over NU doesn't get brought up. "We usually talk about our families," Fitzgerald said.